It’s true, but it doesn’t seem possible. I believe it, but I can’t believe it. I am about to begin my twentieth year as one of your pastors, and I am truly grateful. I am grateful as well for the privilege of sharing in ministry with April Herron, who has brought gifts in worship, pastoral care, connecting faith and life, that encourage and strengthen our community.
When I think about where I was twenty years ago, I was the father of a four and a half year old daughter. Now, this coming October, she will be getting married. So that’s different! (Of course her mother and I look just the same.) Over these past nineteen
years we have seen many changes and developments. Dear friends have come and gone. New ministries have been launched, offering opportunities to deepen our faith and broaden our impact.
This year we received (again) the award for the Outstanding Mission Support congregation in the West District of our Annual Conference. But that doesn’t begin to touch on the level of generosity extended by this congregation. Members of RHUMC have volunteered with Toberman Neighborhood Center at every level for years. We have provided a meal for homeless persons at St. Paul’s UMC in Redondo Beach on the first Tuesday of every month (as well as helping upgrade their kitchen years ago). We support the outreach of the group Circle of Life in their meal program, serving families affected by HIV/AIDS. We contribute to the monthly hot meal prepared at Walteria UMC, and to a senior’s luncheon at the Torrance/South Bay YMCA. We support food banks at Toberman, at St. Paul’s (Project Needs), Harbor Interfaith Services, and 1736 House. Our youth take part in Sierra Service Project, helping underserved communities across the western U.S. The CROP Walk, Heifer Plus, Trek to the Tree – all of these are over and above anything represented in the award.
In the years we have been together we launched Kid Zone and Mid Zone, serving about 100 children and youth each week through the year, and even more in our 8 week summer camp. We help families going through times of health and other challenges. We share funeral and memorial services with people who had no previous connection with our church, offering compassion and care in the midst of their grief and loss.
We have worked to make needed improvements to our facilities as we have grown our mission. The renovation of Wesley Hall fifteen years ago, the expanded Choir Room and new parking area more recently, have provided flexibility and space for continued growth. Breaking ground for new educational facilities this fall will be an even more important development for our long-term future.
No, twenty years ago none of us could have imagined how it would go. But with you I look forward to what’s still to come!
Grace and peace,